Awardees Expected to Save More Than $200 Million
COLUMBUS –– Building on the success of the first round of Straight A Fund grants, the Straight A Fund Governing Board recommended 34 innovative and cost effective grants be funded in fiscal year 2015 at their meeting Friday. The recommended grantees estimate savings and spending reductions of $246.7 million over five years.
Another three grants received tentative approval pending review of additional information.
The grants, which will reach more than 100 individual entities, were recommended for a total of $141.9 million in funding Friday by the Governing Board after a rigorous screening process which put added emphasis on collaboration and efficiency. The recommendations go to the Ohio Controlling Board for final approval on July 28.
A list of applicants recommended for a Straight A Fund Grant can be viewed here.
“Ohio’s Straight A Fund has given a big boost to the most innovative of Ohio’s local school districts who recognize that it takes bold, new approaches to equip our students for a more demanding workplace,” said Richard A. Ross, superintendent of public instruction. “Districts’ collaboration on these creative projects tells me we are becoming more cost-efficient, and that means more taxpayer dollars end up in Ohio classrooms.”
The $250 million Straight A Fund was created in the state budget signed last summer by Gov. John R. Kasich. More than 150 entities received $100 million last year, with $150 million earmarked for new grants this year. The Straight A Fund is part of a $1.6 billion increase in state funding for education over the two year budget cycle. The fund was created to promote innovative local ideas and programs to help transform and modernize Ohio’s education system.
In all, a total of 662 separate organizations, including 446 public school districts, requested more than $761 million in the second round of the Straight A Fund grant award process. The applicant pool includes 73 percent of Ohio school districts.
Each grant application was first rated by three of approximately 180 independent fiscal scorers selected by the Department of Administrative Services who helped determine if applicants’ ideas were fiscally sustainable. From the original pool of 339 applications, 228 were approved as sustainable and promoted to the next step of the rating process.
Each application was then rated by four of approximately 160 independent programmatic scorers selected by the Department of Administrative Services to determine if the proposal was innovative, had substantial value and lasting impact.
After this programmatic review, the Governing Board selected the highest scored applications to be evaluated for cost savings by grant advisors. The approximately 20 grant advisors – professional educators and community and corporate leaders approved by the Governing Board - issued a recommendation on the cost savings of the highest quality applications to the Governing Board who made the final recommendations. The State Controlling Board must give final approval before funds are distributed.
Of the $150 million, legislators earmarked approximately $5.4 million for projects including Kids Unlimited of Toledo for quality after-school tutoring and mentoring; Promise Neighborhoods for improved educational and developmental outcomes of children in distressed communities; and for qualifying districts to improve the efficiency of pupil transportation.
Information about the Straight A Fund can be viewed here.